There are many ways that a home can look messy, out-dated or soulless with the wrong redesign. If you want to create a space that pleases your guests or new buyers, there are a few traps to avoid. We went straight to the professionals to gather up 4 of the biggest faux pas you can make when giving your home a face-lift. Read on for their essential expertise.
1. Too Much Visual Clutter
In the Victorian era, the thought was that if one pattern was good, then four would be better. This led to a busy mishmash of prints and patterns often still seen in older homes that have been occupied by the same tenants for decades. A lifetime’s collection of knickknacks, mementos, and ornaments can further contribute to the clutter. The problem is that we grow comfortable with our charming surroundings and nostalgic tokens, and we can no longer view our homes with fresh and objective eyes.
But today’s modern tastes, especially among younger adults seeking their first houses, runs in the opposite direction. Now it’s all about clean lines and unobstructed views. Josie Abate, principal of Ambiance Design Group, advises sticking to the essentials: “Whether looking at your furniture or anything else in the room, ask yourself if the item is truly essential. If you can live without it, get it out. Try to strip the room down to its essentials – you can always add a few choice items beyond the essentials later.” Removing unnecessary objects opens up the space, revealing the beautiful simplicity of the room’s architecture. That means it’s out with the old decorations, and in with the new design style.
2. Dysfunctional Furnishings
Unless you frequently host parties or live with a large family, stuffing a room with lots of chairs and little tables adds to the clutter, not to your comfort. “The biggest things in any room are the furniture,” Abate notes. This is where she suggests the clean-out should begin. “The fewer pieces of furniture, the better. Think of which furniture can be eliminated without sacrificing comfort and livability.”
Victoria Stepanov of Sense of Space concurs. Every article in modern home decor must serve a purpose. If an article can serve more the one purpose, so much the better. She says, “While minimalist interiors appear, well, minimalist, each individual component must carry a primary and a secondary function. For instance, that sleek rectangular object that serves as a coffee table, also has a storage drawer on a touch-latch slide. Or, hiding behind matte glass doors is a massive built-in wardrobe, housing everything from your shoes to your vacuum cleaner.” Multi-purpose furnishings reduce the need for more pieces, meaning you can purchase a few well-made items that serve as the focal point or conversation-starter in the room.
Jane C. Dizon, writer of “9 Home Decor Mistakes Interior Decorators Always Notice,” goes on to explain that furniture should be appropriately sized for the space. Be sure to accommodate for foot traffic when choosing and arranging furniture. Although you may have limited the number of pieces in the room, they could still overwhelm the space with their ungainly size. Perhaps you’ve taken the focal point idea a little too far? Just remember that less is more in truly every sense.
3. An Overdependence on One Design
A minimalist or modern style doesn’t mean emptying your room entirely. Dizon states that empty walls are wasted spaces: “It’s completely unwelcoming when you have nothing to look at on a wall and your focal points are on the floor.” When everything is on the floor, the room can feel cluttered even if there’s really not much in it. Light-colored shelves or racks not only move the eye off the floor and visually expand the room, but they also free up valuable storage space. Hanging artwork is another way to take advantage of every part of the space.
Another potential problem when approaching the minimalist or modern style too eagerly is the pale color palette. Without some pops of color to punctuate the space, a light-colored room can look bland and insipid. A handful of colorful throw pillows adds visual punch and can be changed out with the seasons and holidays to keep the decor fresh. Dark wood flooring juxtaposed with white cabinets and stainless steel appliances adds warmth to an otherwise cold and industrial ambiance.
Texas-based artist and designer Pablo Solomon and Dizon both agree that “being afraid to mix and match is a big mistake.” Rather than sticking to one particular style that could create a generic aesthetic, homeowners should combine pieces in different styles for uniqueness and charm. Sure, Great-Grandma’s rocking chair might not match the decor, but it’s a fabulous piece that adds personal value and hominess to the room. Mixing textures and materials promises a space filled with character and modern flair.
4. Not Enough Natural Light
Unless you like living in a cave, every room should have a source of natural light. Natural light not only brightens the interior, but it has an expansive effect and saves on electricity. Don’t discount the importance of a good view either. The landscape out the window serves as another focal point or as a natural splash of artwork. Frame windows accordingly to take advantage of what’s beyond the wall. That means ditch the heavy window treatments that block the light and the view.
But don’t worry if your room doesn’t get much natural light. Layering light using lamps at different heights adds dimension and depth as well as showcasing focal points within the room. You can also experiment with lighting effects to bring the desired ambiance to your space. Bright, white light can be harsh; soft, warm lighting imparts a cozy feel but may not be the best for taskwork.
Creating the Right Home for Yourself
These 4 don’ts guarantees a stylish and designer-approved redecoration of your home. But remember that your decor needs to fit your lifestyle and not just your fashion aspirations. If you have active children or pets, take their habits and needs into account, and choose fabrics and surfaces that will accommodate their use. A good eye, a simple palette, and some common sense go a long way in designing a modern home, whether you plan on living there for the rest of your life or until you sell.